I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan. In fact, I’ve probably seen the first movie more times than any movie, ever. I’m even one of those people who like the second one. An adventure game based on Jurassic Park that’s kind of a side-story to the first movie is definitely something I can support. That’s exactly what Telltale has done, here. Sadly, it doesn’t work quite as well as I had hoped.
Jurassic Park: The Game mostly follows Dr. Harding (the guy treating the triceratops in the movie) and his daughter as they try to escape the island after Nedry shuts down the power. The characters aren’t deep or really all that interesting, but they move you from scene to scene well enough. It’s a shame there are so many lines taken from the movie, though. It feels like during half the game, all of the characters are just saying, “Remember Jurassic Park?!” over and over.
The game plays like Heavy Rain mixed with an old-school point and click adventure game. You explore the environment by selecting different objects or people and then use logic to complete each sequence and continue the story. For the most part, this actually works really well. The pop-up button prompt system fits easily into the Jurassic Park theme and can make the faster paced scenes pretty tense and interesting.
Sadly, there are numerous issues preventing it from being a perfectly executed idea. For example, the button prompts are way, way too small. When you can inspect something in the environment, you see a large magnifying glass icon and next to it is an icon showing you what button to press. The button icon is actually really small and often impossible to see. A lot of times it’s also angled so it can be flat against whatever object it corresponds to, making it even harder to see. Why not just replace the large magnifying glass icon with a large icon of the button? It’s a silly and easily-solved problem, but it’s a big one.
The biggest problem with Jurassic Park: The Game, though, is that it simply doesn’t run very well at all. The game is constantly hitching up and dropping frames, especially when it has to load a new scene after you make a correct choice. Not only that, audio can sometimes cut in or out, lag behind the video, or not sync up to the subtitles correctly. From a technical perspective, the whole thing is a mess and it’s almost game-breaking. It’s worth noting that the game runs this way on PS3 and PC, but I haven’t tried the (disc-based) Xbox 360 version yet.
This is a game that gets by on nostalgia alone. If you have a lot of nostalgia for Jurassic Park, you’ll probably find a lot of enjoyment in seeing/escaping the dinosaurs and visiting all the locations from the movie. If you just like adventure games (or Heavy Rain), you’ll likely find that the staggering technical issues and poor UI design make the game not very fun to play. If you like Jurassic Park, you might still feel that way. The game is episodic; try episode one if you’re curious but if you’re not nostalgic for Jurassic Park, your money is probably better spent elsewhere.